by Chris Harris
For American soccer supporters, trading cards sets have been few and far. Upper Deck has held the Major League Soccer license since the league’s genesis and has reliably produced an annual, albeit very basic, MLS set. Wanting to collect something soccer-related, many have had to settle for imported Panini sticker albums and collectible card games like Topps UK’s English Premier League Match Attax.
But with soccer now firmly established as America’s fifth major sport, the card manufacturers are finally beginning to satisfy the increasing demand. Last year Upper Deck released SP Game-Used MLS Soccer the first “high-end” soccer set for the North American market. It was also the first time UD has released more than one MLS-licensed product in a calendar year. In addition, Panini America recently implied via their Twitter feed that a US Soccer Federation-licensed card set is currently in the works.
With that said, Upper Deck has released the first images of the 2012 Upper Deck MLS Soccer set. The set follows the same basic structure of recent MLS products with a base set of 200 cards. The recent folding of Women’s Profession Soccer means that for the first time in a few years, the set will be made of exclusively of MLS players.
Of course, there will be the autographs and game-used jersey cards that have become standard, and each Hobby box contains five: one autograph and four jerseys, one of which being either multi-swatch or a premium swatch. If past year’s is any guide, production of Hobby boxes compared to retail (which only has one hit per box) should be extremely limited, and the one-per-box autographs – especially those of current and former US National Team members and Designated Players – should command high dollars on the secondary market.
A new addition for 2012 is the random insertion of a redemption card good for an Update set. With plenty of speculation on which players will join MLS in the Summer Transfer Window, one can only imaging who will appear in this set (Drogba? Ballack? Ronaldinho?).
2012 Upper Deck MLS Soccer is set for release the week of June 26. Hobby boxes will contain 20 packs of 12 cards and retail in the $90-$95 range.
When he’s not watching MLS, Chris Harris writes the popular hobby blog Stale Gum